The short answer to the question “Do I need to tell the DVLA about my eyesight?” is “Yes, if you have a problem with it”.
UK law mandates that drivers should meet a certain minimum standard of vision for driving. You must inform the DVLA if you have any problems with your eyesight that affect either your eyes; or a single eye.
If your eyesight doesn’t meet the DVLA’s criteria, you should not drive until your vision has been corrected, for example, by being fitted for glasses or contact lenses. A sight test is administered as part of your practical driving test; if your eyesight is so poor that it can’t be corrected to meet the required minimum standards, you won’t be able to continue with the test and will not be able to obtain a driving licence.
If you’ve previously been able to see well but your eyesight has recently deteriorated, you should let the DVLA know about it. They can help you to determine whether it’s still safe for you to drive or not. Some problems don’t need to be reported to the DVLA, including long-sightedness. If you’ve had surgery to correct short sight and now meet the minimum standard for driving, you don’t need to tell the DVLA. Colour blindness doesn’t need to be reported either.
The DVLA doesn’t demand that all drivers need to have perfect 20/20 vision. However, certain minimum standards must be met to prevent drivers with poor eyesight from endangering themselves and other road users.
According to the UK Government’s official website, to hold an ordinary driver’s licence you must have a minimum visual acuity of 6/12 (decimal 0.5) as measured on the Snellen scale. Additionally, you must be able to demonstrate that you can read a car number plate (specifically a number plate manufactured after the 1st of September, 2001) from a distance of 20 metres.
Glasses and Contact Lenses-
The visual acuity specification only refers to corrected vision. If you can meet the required standard while wearing your glasses or contact lenses, that’s considered acceptable for the purposes of the DVLA. That said, you can’t drive without your corrective lenses if doing so means that you no longer meet the minimum standards.
Field of Vision-
In addition to your visual acuity; your field of vision needs to be checked. Your optometrist will be able to explain your field of vision more fully; however, a very simplistic description would be how far around you can see without turning your head. Some medical conditions, such as glaucoma or stroke, can impair the visual field such that it’s no longer possible to see objects approaching from the side. Because a narrow visual field reduces a driver’s awareness of what’s happening around him or her, it is a safety issue. For this reason, an individual whose field of vision is reduced below a certain threshold may be required to surrender their driving licence.
Bus and Lorry Drivers-
The minimum standards of vision for driving are more stringent for bus and lorry drivers than for ordinary motorists. To hold a licence, a lorry or bus driver must have a Snellen scale measurement of 6/7.5 (decimal 0.8) in the strongest eye and at least 6/60 (decimal 0.1) in the weaker eye. While corrective lenses may be worn to bring the driver’s eyesight up to this standard, such lenses can’t be stronger than plus 8 dioptres. Bus and lorry drivers must inform the DVLA if a problem occurs with either eye.